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(Not quite) straight scoop on potty training

Potty training is a milestone that all parents must endure. The process, the hurdles and the falls seem to go on forever. Thankfully, we can look back and laugh a little.

Poop.  Poop is an issue in my house.  Regularly discussed.  Often compared. Poop is an everyday topic.  Keep in mind that we have a 4-year-old living here. 

At age 3, we were in the midst of full potty training with our little one (we call him Juanito).  He refused to poop in the toilet.  He had been peeing like a big boy since age 2 and had actually performed number two a number of times in the toilet, but now, well, no.  Just a plain and simple no.  

He was quite capable.  He knew when he had to go, but when the feeling arose from within his little bowels, he'd reach for the pull-up and hide.  Or he'd insist that it was bedtime, or naptime, depending on the time of day, in which case we would put on a pull-up because he had not gotten the overnight thing down yet, I'd put him to bed and WHOOO HOOO, poop appeared.

 And then it's time to get up.  Nap is over.  It’s not quite bedtime.  Do you see where this is going?  He was/is a sneaky and conniving little bugger, that Juanito.  

A few weeks went by and I was walking by the TV and caught an ad for an upcoming program.  It was one of those doctor/advice/real life things and the topic was, get this, potty training.  

The highlight was the parents of a 3-YEAR-OLD BOY who WOULD NOT POOP in the toilet.  It got my attention.  So, I watch the program when it comes on, I’m ready and willing to try anything at this point.  

The loving parents describe their days and nights of undying attention to their only child.  They have used every trick in the book -- punishment, bribes, you name it.

 They turn to the famous doctor who proceeds to tell them: “Sorry, don’t have an answer for you.” What the hell?  

“What I do have for you is some advice”  -- I’m listening. “You have got to find his currency.” What?  The good doctor goes on to explain that a 3-year-old doesn’t really have a concept for actual money, but there is something in his life that he really really wants -- that is his currency.  

Now, it is up to the parents to figure out what is so important to that kid and hold it over the toilet.  OK, I get that and I know exactly what my kid’s currency is, it is his teenage brother’s Xbox.  There is my answer, there is my light, I’ll bribe the kid with the Xbox - who knew?  Fat flippin chance, Juanito is NO dummy.

Later that evening, I informed my husband of the new plan, we have all got to be on the same page here.  No Xbox for Juanito (and yes, he does play it, he plays those football games like you wouldn’t believe - and don’t judge me) until he poops in the toilet.  

We let the big kids in on the plan, everybody is on board.  Then, it is time to break the news to Juanito.  Needless to say, that doesn’t go over very well.  The next day, I hold my ground, everyone in the family holds their ground to the incessant crying and screaming.  

I’m starting to think that this might work.  There is no poop on this day.  I told you that Juanito is no dummy.  He is still refusing to poop in the toilet.  I’m gentle and kind and explain, even show him the Xbox.  This is your prize.  All you have to do is drop one little turd in the toilet and you get to play.  How hard is that?  Still, no poop. Here is day three...  

I do not have my eyes on this child 100 percent of the time.  I’m prepping meals, cleaning up, doing book work when he is not completely in my face.  This day, day three, is a fairly uneventful day.  Quiet, even.  The big kids are at school, then practice, Honey is working in the field -- it is just Juanito and I at home.  

We do our normal things around the house (still no Xbox, still no poop), start dinner, and the others all come home.  This is when all hell breaks loose.  The older children come in, just like any other normal day, “Hey Mom,” head to their rooms to drop their bags, and then yelling and cursing and yelling and more cursing coming from the 18-year-old’s mouth.

 I go running back to his room to see him holding a pull-up.  One of Juanito’s pull-ups.  And it is full of poop.  The child retrieved a clean pull-up, squatted over it, did his business, and then placed it in his brother’s room, on the bed. Now we all know exactly what he thinks of our plan.  I wonder if the good doctor has some advice for this kind of mastermind behavior?

david cavaliere April 28, 2011 at 02:23 AM
Hello there. This may be a bit off topic however it affects many families. We have a 5 year old with autism we are trying to potty train and a 3 year old with ADHD who isn’t trained yet. They both disrobe and play in their diapers. We actually invented some special needs autism clothing that helps the situation. It is an escape proof pajama called The Wonder Jumper and it is a romper sleeper that zips in the back. Our company is called iKids Fashion www.ikidsfashion.com thanks a lot!
Genevieve Llerena April 29, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Thank you for your article. Potty training is an issue I've been thinking about a lot recently. I have an 8 year old girl and an almost 2 year old boy. Potty training my daughter was a breeze. She just decided one day when she was about two that she was done with diapers. The rest was relatively easy. But I'm not sure where to start with my son. He has Cerebral Palsy and still can't walk he's also behind in his communication skills. I know he's not ready right now, but how do you potty train a child that doesn't walk?
Keri Brenner (Editor) April 29, 2011 at 03:51 AM
@Genevieve Llerena: Thanks for your comment. I'm wondering if there's someone out there who might have some expertise at helping you with your son's potty training situation? It sounds challenging. Good luck and I hope there's a good solution.
Barbara Tuscany April 29, 2011 at 06:48 AM
Genevieve check in with Becoming Independent - they might have some resources. there is a Yahoo group with Matrix Parent Network to join and post. You can ring their group in Novato and they might be helpful. We can forward your information to the Healdsburg Special Ed Parents Group. Email me directly. Hugs and hope you had a blessed Easter.

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